Look up Matthew 25:14-30:
14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30)
In this country we increasingly tend to think that to “succeed” as a church (not just the world) you need the right sort of image e.g. prosperous, cool, youthful, talented. Increasingly, this is a media image. God however sees things differently.
Look up 1 Corinthians1:26- 31
26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no onei might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
In terms of worldy talents of age, education, gender, finances etc. BCF doesn’t possess a lot, but the real question is not our natural but spiritual gifts.(Example – aboriginal evangelism at Autumn Centre miracles of healing and salvation…)
Trying to coach rather than preach in these 4 sessions.
Question: what is the aim of “coaching”? cf. in sport # do the work that others can do but help them realise their full potential.
Most churches – the minister or pastor is like the bus driver who plots the direction and drives the bus while the members follow the “vision” of the pastor like passengers who are passively carried along. This is not a biblical model.
Look up 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Romans 12:4- 8. What do they teach?
26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 1 Corinthians 14:26
4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. Romans 12:4- 8
Purpose of this series is to help you discover, release and grow in the gifts that God has given.
Our Image of God and the Release of Gifts
Question: Any ideas why I chose Matthew 25:14-30 as the main text? ……….
Reflection Exercise: take 5 minutes, go through this text and answer the question, “Which of the 3 servants do I think is most like me? (Opportunity to feedback (voluntary) when we return.)
I chose Matthew 25 because we will always release the gifts of God in our lives according to the way we think of his character.
Question: What did the first two servants think of their Master?
They had confidence in his estimation of their abilities, he gave “to each according to his ability” and they “went off at once” and multiplied what he had given them. N.B. – it is not what they thought of themselves, it is what they thought of the Master’s decision to entrust them with his talents.
Question: Do we struggle to agree with what God says about us/how he sees us? (How does God see us?- always in Jesus)
Question: Why did the third servant produce no fruit ?
“‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.’” (Matt 25:24)
Paralysed by fear of the Master’s judgement – “harsh” = selfish, hard, greedy, self – serving, heartless, tyrannical, insensitive, unjust, severe.
He did not believe there was any joy to be had in serving the master, or that the Master would share with the servants what they had earned on his behalf. In other words, the servant thought that the Master was like himself – wicked and lazy.
This servant was totally self – centred, he never took a thought for the Master’s joy but only his own welfare.
He had strong feelings about the Master’s character i.e. “reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed”
Question: What does this mean?
Thinks Master is someone who is joyless and gets others to do all the work for him. Truth is the opposite – the faithful servants start off with “few things” and end up with “many things”.
I think most Australians are like this servant.
Question: What makes me think this?
They are lazy/passive servants who bury their gifts because they are not active in the cause of the kingdom of God (# church involvement; bringing Jesus into every part of their lives) or put their biggest effort into things for their own satisfaction e.g. homes, holidays, families.
We need to be honest about this.
Reflection Exercise: take 5 minutes to reflect on the question, “Are there ways in which I am a lazy servant who does not understand the true nature of God?”
Jesus and a New Image of God
Question: Who is the Master in the story?
Jesus is the Master. Matthew 25 – 3 parables; ten bridesmaids, talents, sheep and goats. Each about how we should live until Jesus returns.
People say, “I could think of God as hard but I could never think of Jesus as hard.” But, Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9).
Everything in Jesus’ life and ministry – his compassion for the sick, feeding the poor, forgiving the guilty etc. shows he is the image of a God who is tender – hearted and generous.
When we look at human behaviour, not only the general godlessness in society but the apathy and prayerlessness of Christians, it seems almost impossible for God to convince us that he is not “a harsh man, reaping where he does not sow, and gathering where he does not scatter seed”
The key to a change of mind about this is the cross, and the key to understanding the cross in this passage is verse 30. Look it up:
30 “‘As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matt 25:30). This is a description of hell (Matt 8:12;22:13).
At first sight this verdict seems to confirm the third servant’s opinion that the Master is severe, and it seems to be the total opposite to Jesus’ words about himself, “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28).
The truth is, that hell is based on the principle that Jesus taught elsewhere, “the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you” (Mark 4:24). The wicked servant gave nothing to God and nothing multiplied by anything is still nothing – emptiness and misery. Fear multiplies fear.
Question: Does this description of hell remind you of any event in the Gospels?
Look up Matthew 27:45- 46
45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:45- 46)
When Jesus dies on the cross he dies in the place of wicked and lazy servants/he dies in the place of us, in the middle of the darkness of hell. Jesus takes the sort of death that we deserved – this shows us what God’s heart is really like.
Thankfully, the cross is not the end of the story. In the resurrection, Jesus enters into the joy of his Master (Heb 1:9; 12:2) he goes from having a and restricted authority Father to billions of disciples and all authority (Matt 28:18 -20).
Each of us is one of Jesus servants, and over the next 3 weeks we can discover, release and grow in the gifts that God has given us.
When we consider the death and resurrection of Jesus we receive a new vision of him and his Father- a vision of a God who welcomes us his servants with joy and wants to multiply his gifts and goodness into our lives. May that be our expectation.
Exercise for the Week:
1. Ask God to make it clear what gifts he has given us.
2. Ask God to multiply those gifts.
3. Ask God to bring us into a deeper joy in those gifts (This will be the topic next week.)